Posted: 12/29/2021 22:17:51 PM

Modified: 12/29/2021 22:17:24 PM

AMHERST – An emergency Board of Health meeting scheduled for Thursday evening will consider whether certain companies may be required to require customers to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

Amherst Health Director Jennifer Brown said on Wednesday that no policy had yet been written, but the Department of Health wanted to recognize that a substantial increase in cases during and after the holidays was possible, and talk about the best strategies to reduce transmission.

“The proof of the vaccine for some companies will be discussed, but may not be passed,” Brown said.

The board of health meeting in Amherst begins at 5 p.m. Also that evening at 7 p.m., Hadley’s Board of Health holds a meeting that includes an agenda item “discussion and vote on the emergency order regarding vaccine requirements to enter. some businesses in Hadley. “The agenda also includes an ongoing conversation and a possible vote on a vaccine mandate for the Senior Center.

The meetings come after the Northampton Board of Health was criticized on Tuesday by many of the more than 300 people who attended the meeting in which it unveiled a proposal for a vaccine passport. As part of the city plan, anyone 5 years and older would be required to show full proof of vaccination, with restaurants, bars, gyms and other indoor businesses affected.

In Amherst, the agenda reads “discuss vaccine needs for some Amherst businesses” and lists restaurants, gyms and major venues like those to cover.

At a recent city council meeting, after Boston Mayor Michelle Wu announced her city would join others, like New York City, in forcing people to get vaccinated at certain businesses , councilors asked city manager Paul Bockelman if something similar is under consideration. Bockelman said at the time that was not the case, that Amherst’s rules often align with Northampton’s and that changes could come when testing resumes at the University of Massachusetts in January.

“In terms of physical spaces, I think what we want to do is see what happens after the first of the year,” Bockelman said.

District 3 councilor Dorothy Pam pleaded for strong action, even if it means unvaccinated people could be turned away. “I just hope we do everything we can to keep the spread here,” Pam said.

Such policies already exist. At UMass, people may be required to show proof of vaccination to attend events at the Mullins Center and the Fine Arts Center, and the Amherst Theater requires people to present vaccination cards and identification.

The board of health’s agenda also includes such topics as the order for existing masks, other COVID-19 orders and the director of health’s authorization of other efforts, and the general condition of the disease. pandemic.

Scott Merzbach can be contacted at [email protected]